On Halloween ghosts, jack-o-lanterns, and other spooky costumes may frighten some children, but research shows the simple act of crossing the street is the true danger. According to the United States Census Bureau, there were 41 million trick-or-treaters aged 5 to 14 across the United States in 2010. That number does not include children older than 15 who also go out trick-or-treating, and may be more prone to distracted walking than their younger peers. With all those children out on the streets at the same time, it’s important to discuss the importance of walking safely.
Halloween is the deadliest day of the year for child pedestrian accidents according to a joint study between State Farm and Bert Sterling of Sperling’s BestPlaces that analyzed records from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) from 1990-2010. Over those 21 years, 115 child pedestrian fatalities occurred on Halloween, over double the average number of 2.6 fatalities on other days of the year. Particularly dangerous was the hour between 6:00-7:00 p.m., twilight in most states, when it’s more difficult to see children crossing the street.
To address this issue, the Children’s Safety Network has compiled a list of resources and tips for how to practice safe pedestrian habits during Halloween. Most safety experts focus their Halloween tips around three key areas: costumes, supervision, and street safety.
Children should see and be seen in their costumes. Bright colors made of fireproof fabrics that that do not obstruct vision or movement are a must-have for Halloween. Adults should accompany children under 12 and children over 12 should go in groups, stick to familiar areas, and bring flashlights or glow sticks to increase visibility as the sun goes down. It’s also important to review key pedestrian safety rules like always crossing at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks; looking left-right-left when crossing and keep eye contact with drivers you pass in front of to make sure they see you; and watching out for cars backing out of driveways. By reviewing these tips with children, you will not only help them stay safe this Halloween, but you’ll also give them the tools they need to walk safely year-round.